“A lot of my work has undertones of female sexuality and ritual, because photography was a place where it was okay to explore those things,” says Tabitha Barnard, the oldest of four sisters raised in a close-knit, religious community in rural Maine. “In photographing my sisters, and in trying to find a private place to do that, we kind of found this escape. I could always just tell my parents it was make-believe.”
Barnard has just won the 2018 Gomma Grant with this work, which she’s titled the Cult of Womanhood and which has previously been featured on bjp-online. Second prize went to Vladimir Vasilev with Nocte Intempesta, which was shot at night in a small city in Normandy, France. Fatima Abreu Ferreira took Third prize with How to disappear completely, “a work of struggle, obsession and complete hallucination” shot over two years in the photographer’s home town. Yorgos Yatromanolakis, meanwhile, won an Honourable mention for The Splitting of the Chrysalis & the Slow Unfolding of the Wings, which was also shot back home in the Greek island of Crete and which has also been featured on bjp-online.
The Gomma Prix Award went to Elena Subach with Babusi, a series which considers elderly Ukrainian women at a time when fast-evolving technology seems to be pushing the generations further apart. Best Color Documentary went to Karl Mancini with Amores Perros, which shows poor young people living in an impoverished neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. Best Best Black & White Documentary to Caleb Stein with Down by the Hudson, which also shows an area afflicted by poverty – Poughkeepsie, a small city in upstate New York.
Valerio Polici won Best Daily Life Story with Interno, while Jens Schwarz won Best Color Picture for Themmuns, which was shot in Northern Ireland. Best Black & White Picture went to Tommy Nease with Microcosm, while the Gomma Rising Talent Prize was taken by Marie Tomanova with Young American. The Gomma Grant has been going since 2014, and has picked up a reputation for finding cutting-edge and emerging work.